Conditioning for Climbing



This page is intended only as a rough guide to conditioning for climbing. It is not a substitute for obtaining professional training guidance specific to your individual circumstances. DTphysiotherapy advises consulting the appropriate health professional before comencing a training programme.


It is not true that the only way to condition and train your body for climbing is to climb. In fact if climbing is your only training, you are likely to develop serious muscle imbalance and postural problems.

Many climbers have over-developed agonist muscles specific to the powerful movements in climbing when compared with the antagonist and stabiliser muscle groups. For example, climbers often have very strong finger and wrist flexor muscles but relatively weak finger and wrist extensor muscles. Unsurprisingly a common complaint is lateral epicondilitis where the wrist extensors insert into to elbow - often due to this muscle strength imbalance.

Rock climbing invovles powerful movements
of body weight or more. Therefore an appropriate starting point when conditioning your body for climbing is resistance weight training. This needs to be targeted equally at agonist and antagonist muscle groups. So if you do a set of repetitive pulls on a seated row machine, you should also do a set of repetitive pushing exercises to balance the training effect.

Those who attempt campus board training shortly after taking up climbing may find themselves developing tendonopathies. The blood supply in tendons is relatively poor compared with that in muscles. It therefore takes significantly longer - up to three months lag - for tendons to adapt to the same strength gains in muscles. Some coaches advise that campus board training should be avoided for years after you have started climbing to allow the musculoskeltal system to adapt to the forces that climbing places on the body.

It would be irresponsible to offer a universal training formula on this webpage because everyone has a unique sporting background, current fitness level and injury history.

DTphysiotherapy is able to design a training programme that is unique to your circumstances, climbing goals and condition your body for the stresses of climbing.